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  • It can be defined in two terms i.e. sociologically and demographically
  • Sociologically – Max Weber while defining ‘URBAN’ have stressed on dense living condition, rapidity of change and impersonal interaction in urban settings. The points taken into consideration here are heterogeneity, impersonality, interdependence, and the quality of life.
  • Demographically- ‘URBAN’ is that area where there is huge population, most of population is dependent on non-agricultural activities, size and density of population is more.
  • Terms according to population:
Sr. No. Population Term
1 Between 5,000 & 20,000 Small Towns
2 20,000 to 50,000 Large Towns
3 50,000 to one lakh  Big Cities
4 Greater than 10 Lakh Metropolitan Areas
5 More than 50 Lakh Mega Cities


 Urbanization is the movement of population from rural to urban areas and the resulting increasing proportion of a population that resides in urban rather than rural places.
⇒ Eminent Sociologist Anderson has said that urbanization is a two way process and it not only involves movement of population from rural to urban areas & change in occupation but also involves change in attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior patterns.
⇒ Five characteristics of Urbanisation:
1. Money Economy
2. Civil Administration
3. Cultural Changes
4. Written Records
5. Innovations

⇒ It is a way of life.
⇒ It reflects an organization of society in terms of a complex division of labour, high levels of technology, high mobility, interdependence of its members in fulfilling economic functions and impersonality in social relations.

In 1961 census, ‘town’ was defined and determined on the basis of number of empirical tests:
⇒ A minimum population of 5000
⇒ A density of not less than 1,000 per square mile
⇒ 3/4th of the occupations of the working population should be outside of agriculture
⇒ The place should have a few characteristics and amenities such as newly founded industrial areas, large housing settlements and places of tourist importance and civic amenities.

5) Urban Agglomeration: Very often large railway colonies, universities, port areas, military camps, etc. come up outside the statutory limits of the city or town but adjoining it. Such areas may not themselves qualify to be treated as towns but if they form a continuous spread with the adjoining town, it would be realistic to treat them as urban. Such settlement has been termed as outgrowths, and may cover a whole village, or part of a village. Such towns together with their outgrowths have been treated as one urban unit and called ‘urban agglomeration’.

6) Census Towns: To be qualified as a census towns, a village must fulfill three criteria a) It need atleast 5,000 inhabitants b) a density of 400 people per sq. km, and c) atleast three quarters of its male working population must be engaged in non-agricultural pursuits.

1) Difference between Industrialization & Urbanization

Industrialization is the mainly a change from being an agricultural and pastoral society to a more industry based society. Definition of Urbanization is given above.
2) Difference between Urbanization, Counter Urbanization & Suburbanization & Over-urbanization
Counter urbanisation is a demographic and social "process" whereby people move from urban areas to rural areas.
Suburbanization is just a "term" used to describe the growth of areas on the fringes of major cities.
Over-urbanization refers to the increased exemplifications of the characters of the urbanization in a city or its surrounding rural area.
⇒ Positive Side: Cities are the centres of development, innovation, our great civilization and culture.
⇒ Negative Side: Increasing urbanization has led to various serious issues or problems like overcrowding and slums, alcoholism & drug abuse, crime and juvenile delinquency, unemployment and poverty, pollution and noise, and communication and traffic control.
⇒ Individualism: People give more importance to one’s self interest.
⇒ Anonymity: People living in cities even in neighbor hardly know each other. No mutual bond exists.
⇒ Superficiality: The number of people one knows in urban areas are very limited & one has very impersonal & formal relations with them.
⇒ Transiency: An urban lifestyle has everything which lasts for short term i.e. from relations to house of accommodation.
⇒ Social Heterogeneity: People of different languages, classes, castes & religion, etc. live together in the city.
⇒ Specialization of function and behavior: Every member of the urban area is specialized at what he does or his occupation, unlike the generalization witnessed in the rural areas.
⇒ Standardization: The urban life necessitates and individual to standardize his behavior which ultimately helps him and others (with whom he interacts) to understand each other and make interaction simpler.
⇒ Social Mobility: Urban areas provide opportunities for change in social status because of which, as compared to villages, there is more upward mobility in cities. The mobility may be horizontal or vertical. Besides social mobility, geographical mobility is also present in urban areas.
⇒ Urbanization was an off-shoot of the industrial revolution which created a demand for a large number of workers at centralized locations.
⇒ Besides there were other reasons like political, religious historical and economic factors.
⇒ Political: some cities became political centres like capital cities. Eg Delhi, Bombay
⇒ Religious historical: some cities attracted population due to their religious importance. E.g. Allahabad, Varanasi
⇒ Economic Factors: centres famous as trade centres. E.g. Ahmedabad, Surat.
1) Effects of Urbanization on Family
⇒ Urbanization affects family structure & the functions it performs
⇒ Joint family is replaced by nuclear families
⇒ Size of family shrinks
⇒ Kinship relationship relationship is confined to two or three generations only
⇒ ‘Husband dominant’ family is being replaced by ‘equalitarian’ family where wife is given a share in decision making.
⇒ Attitude of youngsters is motivated by respect rather than fear.
2) Effects on Caste
⇒ Caste identity tends to diminish with urbanization, education and the development of an orientation towards individual achievement and modern status symbols.
⇒ People of various castes live & work together in urban cities i.e. heterogeneity is practiced.
⇒ Class ties are more important than caste ties.
3) Effects on Status of Women
⇒ Status of women is higher than that of rural women.
⇒ They become comparatively educated and liberal.
⇒ Politically, urban women are more active today.
⇒ Decisions on divorce and remarriage can be taken openly by the urban women.
1) Housing and Slums
⇒ Due to increased population & limited land there has been huge demand for accommodation which cannot be met.
⇒ Moreover, there are high & unrealistic rents for accommodation which lacks proper legislative backing.
⇒ Also, the real estate builders are not committed for building houses for poor & middle class families. Their soul moto is to earn more profits rather than ‘some’ welfare activities.
⇒ Activities carried by city development authorities for constructing houses for poor are exploited by the engineers and contractors who build them by using poor quality material which not only makes that accommodation bad for living but also brings bad name to housing boards which actually want to help people.
⇒ Living conditions in slum areas are characterized by: overcrowding, poor environmental conditions, scarcity of health and family welfare services and total absence of minimum level of residential accommodation. Due to which living conditions of people living in slums is far more pathetic than in rural areas.
2) Crowding and Depersonalization
⇒ Crowding i.e. increase in the density of population is often witnessed in urban areas.
⇒ Crowding encourages deviant behavior, spreads diseases, and creates conditions for mental illness, alcoholism and riots.
⇒ One effect of dense urban living is people’s apathy and indifference. City dwellers do not want to ‘get involved’ in people’s affairs.
3) Water Supply and Drainage
⇒ We are falling short of water supply to the cities.
⇒ No city in the country has round the clock water supply.
⇒ Our drainage facilities do not cover every area & are very inefficient.
⇒ No city in our country is fully sewered.
4) Transportation and Traffic
⇒ There has been increase in private transport which increases pollution.
⇒ Traffic often happens on the road jamming the road for hours.
⇒ Roads lack proper maintenance as local bodies don’t have sufficient funds.
⇒ Every public transport is falling short of demands whether it is railway or bus or anything else.
5) Power Shortage
⇒ Load shedding is a common phenomenon these days.
⇒ Number of electrical & electronic equipments, industries, etc, have increased with a great pace in rural areas.
⇒ But the power generating units have not increased with same pace.
⇒ Also, our other sources of energy are also falling short of the huge demand.
6) Sanitation
⇒ Local bodies are very corrupt & inefficient.
⇒ Even if they think of improving sanitation in the city they lack proper funds
⇒ Removing garbage, cleaning drains and unclogging sewers is like dream come true.
⇒ Due to improper sanitation, various diseases including malaria, diarrhea, diphtheria, tetanus and measles are spreading widely.
⇒ Problems with sanitation: 1. since payment for garbage removal is made on the basis of trips and not the weight of the garbage pickup vehicles, a large number of trips are shown on records and money is split between the contractor and the municipal employees. 2. A large number of vehicles used for garbagecollecting operations are actually used for outside work. 3. Debris is diverted and sold to private parties for filling up building sites while payment for debris disposal is also taken from the municipality 4. Drivers of trucks and dumpers sell diesel meant for sanitation trucks.
7) Pollution
Our cities and towns are major polluters of the environment.
Traffic & industries is already causing air pollution
Several cities discharge 40% to 60% of their entire sewage and industrial effluents untreated into the nearby rivers.
1) Migration
⇒ The amount of people migrating to Urban areas is crossing its limit & it is increasing day by day in the search of job & better standard of living.
⇒ It is causing strain on the already overstrained public facilities like bus, railway, water, sanitation, etc.
⇒ The entrance of rural poor into the city depletes sources of revenues.
⇒ Also, the rich people now a day’s prefer to live in sub-urban areas,
2) Industrial Growth
⇒ Industrial growth is not sufficient. It has slowed down.
⇒ Though the employment opportunities provided by industrial sector & service sector is very low still a huge population comes against that small promise to urban areas.
⇒ Industrial growth is not marked with technology progress which increases pollution of the city concerned.
3) Apathy of the Government
⇒ Administrative mismanagement is also responsible for the current problem.
⇒ Lack of proper infrastructure & can’t even maintain the current infrastructure.
⇒ Various restrictions have been placed on local bodies because of which they can’t gather more funds even when there is a lot of necessity.
⇒ Local bodies are not able to keep pace with the city growth.

4) Defective Town Planning
⇒ Very little is done in our country for planning of cities.
⇒ Because of which cities are increasing & growing with no control or planning to keep a watch over them & guide them.
5) Vested-interest Forces
⇒ Vested interest forces that little good work being done against the people & enhances private commercial interests and profits.
⇒ Citizens are generally helpless against the powerful elite of the urban area.

The key interventions of the GOI are:
⇒ National Urban Transport Policy;
⇒ Guidelines for sector reform and public-private partnership in the urban water and sanitation sector;
⇒ Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), such as integrated development of small and medium towns;
⇒ Mega city schemes;
⇒ Special development plan for National Capital Region;
⇒ Accelerated urban water supply programme;
⇒ Low cost sanitation etc.
⇒ Administering fiscal concessions such as tax holidays for integrated urban infrastructure development projects;
⇒ Urban environmental infrastructure schemes such as for solid waste management and urban water supply, tax free status for municipal bonds, etc
⇒ Training and information: by funding a variety of training programmes,
⇒ Creating and disseminating manuals such as the Municipal Solid Waste Planning Manuel.
⇒ A mission named Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (NNURM) was launched on 3rd December 2005. The mission comprises two submissions – 1) For Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP)and the other for 2)Infrastructure and Governance.
⇒ For other cities/towns two schemes, viz, Integrated Housing and Slum Development(IHSDP) and Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns have also been launched along with JNNURM on 3.12.2005.
⇒ The existing Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY) and the discontinued National Slum Development Programme (NSDP) are subsumed in the IHSDP.
⇒ The IHSDP implemented by the Ministry of UEPA has been launched with the objective to strive for holistic slum development with the healthily and enabling urban environment by providing adequate shelter and basic infrastructure facilities to the slum dwellers of identified urban areas.
⇒ Traditional approach: traditional welfarist approaches advocate the policy of destroying the slums, tearing it down physically and redevelopment with subsidized housing. (But this will attract more and more population from rural areas to urban areas & management of them will become difficult.)
⇒ New developmental approach : It involves two fundamental ideas:- the development of effective community feeling within an urban context and the development of self-help and citizens participation, of individual initiative in seeking community integration and change.
⇒ Systematic Development of Urban Centres Urban centres should be developed with ultimate planning & taking help of satellites, remote sensing, GIS. It will help to properly manage various public services & utilities.
⇒ Creation of Job Opportunites Various urban problems are the result of poverty. That can only be solved if they people get proper jobs. So, focusing on employment generation should be the prime objective.
⇒ Regional Planning along with City planning It has always been the practice that whatever the meager planning is done it is regarding city. The surrounding area & the region as a whole never gets attention & hence more and more people come from the underdeveloped area to the developed area i.e. city (urban area). Proper attention to the regional development along with city planning should be given so that life opportunities can be accessed by the rural population & people won’t do ‘urbanization’.
⇒ Encouraging industries to move to backward areas Urbanization occurs mostly near the industrial centres. People come to these places to find a good job & have good standard of living. It also leads to regional imbalance & more & more population migrates. But if these industries are asked to open there centres in the backward areas then it might help.
⇒ Municipalities to find own financial resources In fact every city should be able to earn its own fund to meet its expenditure. But hardly any municipality tries to find any avenues as such. Current funds are already over-strained & because of which new funds are necessary.
⇒ Encouraging Private Transport Public transport these days can’t meet the demands. Their efficiency is decreasing day by day. Private players in transportation business should be allowed. It will help to reduce some pressure & overcrowding of public transportation services.
⇒ Amendment of Rent Control Acts Laws which inhibit the construction of new houses or giving of houses on rent must be amended. Due to improper legislation, high rents are charged which are indiscriminate most of the times. So, proper legislation will help to arrest the problems arising out of the same.
⇒ Adopting Pragmatic Housing Policy Government has the proper aim of building houses to ‘home-less’ person. But they are not properly targeted. Identification issues also exist. Ground situations are not taken into consideration & the policies are developed according to the avenues of politicians & bureaucrats. So, there is a need of proper housing policies.
⇒ Structural Decentralization More rights & powers should be given to the local bodies which are the real in-charge of an urban area. The argument is that the same system that allows lakhs of people a substantial control over their civic destiny denies them an effective role in shaping the institutions that shape their lives.
1. Local Capacity building: A real step-up in the capabilities and expertise of urban local bodies will be critical to devolution and improvement of service delivery. Reforms will have to address the development of professional managers for urban management functions, who are in short supply and will be required in large numbers. New innovative approaches will have to be explored to tap into the expertise available in the private and social sectors.
2. Inclusive Cities: The poor and lower income groups must be brought into the mainstream in cities. Regulations intended to manage densities and discourage migration both limit the supply of land and require many households to consume more land than they would choose. This drives urban sprawl and pushes up the price of land the cost of service delivery for all.

Urban Environment Management Issues Underlying Causes Relevant Policy Reforms
Services land Shelter Poor functioning of urban land and housing markets, Highly Regulated prices, lack of affordable housing for the poor.

Reform property rights, develop mortgage financing, introduce affordable standards and target subsidies to the poor, Reduce unneeded regulations, Governmental regulations and subsidies.

Water Supply, Sanitation, drainage, solid waste collection and transport Supply side dominated by government 
monopoly, prices heavily regulated, heavy subsidies
Introducing pricing and demand management, reconsider subsidies, move towards decentralization, privatization and participation
Water Pollution Uncontrolled municipal & industrial discharges, excessive water use and waste generation, failure to link water quantity and quality issues Introduce water pricing and effluent charges, subsidise sewage sewage 
treatment, strengthen regulations and capacity for monitoring and enforcement, prepare comprehensive basin plans
Energy Use and Air Pollution
Increases motorization and transportation 
congestion, energy supply side dominated by government monopoly, heavy energy subsidies, household cottage industry
use of low quality fuels
Introduce energy and fuel pricing, road charges, emission charges, reduce automobiles subsidies fuel subsidies, integrate transport and land use planning, promote clean technologies, fuel substitution, and vehicle maintenance
Solid and hazardous waste
Poor municipal management, lack of disposal facilities, inadequate regulation and enforcement Introduce regulation, licensing and charges, stimulate waste minimization, 
strengthen operations, privatize disposal operations
Ground Water Depletion
Unsustainable extraction link to unclear property rights and treatment as free resource Clarify property rights, introduce extraction charges, rain water harvesting and artificial recharge of ground water in water deficit regions
Land and Ecosystem
Low-income settlements “pushed” onto fragile
lands by lack of access to affordable serviced lands; Lack of controls over damaging economic activities
Coordinate land development; remove artificial shortages of land; develop 
sustainable uses of sensitive areas: monitor enforce landuse controls
Loss of agricultural and
historic property
Lack of property rights, regulations 
enforcement, maintenance; failure to reflect social values in land prices
Introduce tax incentives for preservation; use redevelopment planning,
zoning and building codes; develop property rights
Natural Hazards Poorly functioning landmarks. Ineffective land
policies; poor construction practices,
Enable land markets; provide disincentives to construction practices or 
occupation of high risk areas, incentives for using disasterresistant
construction techniques; disaster preparation plans.
Man-made Hazards Inadequate regulation and enforcement: low 
income settlements alongside hazardous activities
Introduce and enforce environmental zoning: formulate urban disaster 
preparedness plans and strengthen response capacity. Disaster mitigation

It may be pointed out that the effects of urbanization and urbanism and the problems of cities can never be solved until urban planning is modified and radical measures are taken. These should not be based on the profit motive which would benefit a few vested interests. The use of land, technology and taxes should be for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of a few powerful interest groups. City-dwellers have to become politically active and organize themselves and agitate to change the existing economic and social systems in the cities.

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